The American Express

La Quinta, Calif.


Equipment

First Cut

XXIO X driver, fairway woods, hybrids: What you need to know

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The XXIO X (as in the letter “X”) line of driver, fairway wood and hybrid, employ similar aerodynamic approach as last week’s XXIO 12 line, but with two notable differences. Rather than the ultralight approach of the XXIO 12, the XXIO X targets average to above-average swing speeds with its more conventional (although still light) weighting. Second, and for the first time ever, the XXIO X will feature an adjustable hosel to more distinctly dial in proper loft and face angle position at address with its 12 settings.

PRICE: $700 for driver, $400 for fairway woods, $300 for hybrids. Available at retail Feb. 11.

THE DEEP DIVE: XXIO’s metalwoods heritage has largely been about pushing the barriers of lighter weight while injecting those club heads with technologies aimed at helping slower swingers maximize speed and distance while minimizing dispersion. But its new X lineup is an attempt to work the problem in reverse: Bring those same beneficial strategies of speed and accuracy to more average to above-average swings. If the technologies can improve below-average swings, the thinking is average swings might benefit even more.

On top of that, the new XXIO X will offer the first adjustable driver in company history, a potentially major challenge to its traditionally ultralight focus. Or so one might think given the extra mass tied up in an adjustable hosel mechanism, but the XXIO X driver still checks in at just 300 grams, lighter than many popular drivers on the market.

The XXIO X maintains a focus on avoiding excess mass while finding new ways to inject more speed and accuracy into the driver, fairway woods and hybrids. Most distinctive is an aerodynamic feature on the heel size of the crown called “ActivWing.” The small, rising protrusion aims to improve how efficiently and effectively the club moves through the air, according to XXIO research and development engineer Anthony Munson. The key areas of the swing for speed and accuracy occur about halfway down in the backswing and, of course, directly before impact, Munson said. It prevents the club from dipping or drooping offline during the middle of the downswing.

“We’re creating beneficial lift and drag features in the clubhead, stabilizing it throughout the downswing, and that’s providing better consistency,” he said. “During the downswing as the oncoming free stream of air is passing over this feature, it’s creating increased lift and drag over controlled portions of the clubhead. Those increased lift and drag components results in a force that’s reducing the maximum deflection in that toe down direction.”

Essentially, the ActivWing feature is designed to keep the club on line in the middle of the downswing, and at impact it also makes it easier for the player to return the face back to square.

The XXIO X driver employs other keys to help with swing speed and ball speed. Those include a thin high-strength Super TIX-51AF titanium alloy in the face, which extends slightly beyond the perimeter of the face to form what XXIO calls a flat cup face design. That face also features a flared toe section on the sole to improve face flex in the toe section and six separate bulge and roll sections for better control of launch direction, angle and spin for tighter ball flight.

The driver is also designed with the “rebound frame” concept first seen on the company’s Srixon ZX metalwoods and also in last summer’s Cleveland Launcher XL metalwoods. The idea is that by surrounding the face with flexible and stiff sections of the crown and sole, the face deflects more at impact for better ball speed. Of particular note is how the sections immediately connecting the outer edges of the face to the crown and sole are thinner to increase face deflection compared to past XXIO drivers.

The driver also features the counterbalanced weight plug in the grip end called “Weight Plus,” which is also designed to bring more efficiency to the downswing. It was first seen on XXIO models two years ago.

The driver’s total weight is around 20 grams heavier than the XXIO 12 but still lighter than most drivers played on tour and many popular drivers currently on the market. It features a 46-gram shaft, also lighter than most stock shafts on the most popular models on the market. The adjustable hosel allows a player to tweak from plus one to minus one degrees and tweak lie angle from 0 to 2 degrees flat.

The XXIO X fairway woods and hybrids incorporate that same aerodynamic crown feature, but each also utilizes a step-down shape to the crown to help lower the center of gravity and activate better flexing in the face for better launch. An internal angled weight pad in the sole is positioned forward to better line up the center of gravity with the center of the face for best energy transfer. Both the fairway wood and hybrid use a high-strength HT1770M steel in the flat cup face.

The XXIO X driver ($700; 9.5, 10.5 degrees), fairway woods ($400; 15, 18 degrees) and hybrids ($300; 18, 20, 23 degrees) are slated to be at retail Feb. 11.